The movie is “The Only Living Boy in New York.” The characters are 3 men, and 3 women. The reviewer is at peace.
It’s a superb movie. Let’s go through a plot synopsis.
Thomas is a young man who’s just been friend zoned by his ‘beautiful’ crush Mimi. He goes back to his new apartment, and meets his neighbour, W. F. Gerald, for the first time. Thomas tells Gerald about Mimi, and the rest of his life, and Gerald gives him some love advice.
The advice is that Thomas needs to just make Mimi more afraid of not having him than having him. Unconsciously, Thomas goes about doing this.
Thomas finds his father having an affair with a beautiful woman (with a British accent, so beautiful 2x). He stalks her, in theory, because he wants to tell her to stop seeing his father. When he does go speak to her, she tells him that he’s simply trying to make love with her. And it’s true. He’s infatuated. If Thomas really wanted her to stop seeing his father, he would go straight to him instead.
Her name is Johanna. And Johanna likes Thomas. They eventually sleep with each other multiple times. Johanna sleeps with him because she feels insecure about sleeping with his father (I don’t know what that means either, I’m not old enough). Thomas sleeps with her because he’s in love, and I believe he’s trying to get some sort of revenge against his father, because his father never really appreciated any attempts he made in life, really.
Now, Mimi is becoming suspicious that Thomas is sleeping with Johanna. She’s starting to get jealous too. And she starts to develop an interest in Thomas for the first time. He’s no longer a guarantee. And that raises his value. But Thomas keeps her on her toes – he continues to suggest to her that he’s a good guy, and that he’d never sleep with his father’s mistress.
Who’s the third female character? Thomas’ mother of course. He doesn’t want to tell her about the affair because she’s fragile – she has bipolar disorder and depression, and he’s worried that this would set her off.
All this time, Thomas relays his life to Gerald (his new neighbour).
So then what? Johanna is not in love with Thomas. As I said, she’s only sleeping with him to build her self esteem. But Thomas is in love with her. And he tries to make it mutual: he asks her questions about where’s she’s from, what her parents are like, so on and so forth. But she doesn’t share much – she doesn’t want to develop a relationship with him. And that’s because she loves his father.
One day, Gerald (Thomas’ neighbour) meets with Johanna, and tells her that if she scars Thomas, she’ll have to deal with him. She decides that her relationship with Thomas has gone too far, and tries to pull the plug. She tells Thomas that his father proposed to her, and that she was going to marry him.
It’s a win win situation, she says! She becomes happy, Thomas’ father is happy (his name is Ethan by the way), Thomas’ mother Judith is happy because her boring marriage is over. He’s very upset with this suggestion, and decides to go tell his father immediately about everything, but stops because he finds his mother beside his father.
Exhausted, he goes home to sleep. The next morning, he has a breakfast chat with his mother, who can tell he’s upset. He asks her what he should do in a tough situation. She says to go through it. And he runs to his father’s office to tell him everything.
He tells his father that he’s been sleeping with Johanna, multiple times, and his father is first angry, and then sad. His father walks out the door after sobbing in front of him. Johanna’s in the room too, because she runs up after she sees Thomas running to his father’s office. She sheds a tear. Then she gives him a photo of an old newspaper clipping, where Thomas just won a baseball game.
Who’s in the background?
Gerald’s his father.
It was a great movie. The dialogue was a bit difficult to follow at times. It was kind of like drinking scotch for the first time. You don’t gulp it down all at once. You have to sip, and pause. And I found the dialogue was being forced down. Too soon!
One other thing that I took away from the movie was that I would like to become a writer. As I was going through it, I thought about the people in my life who are similar to the dichotomy between Gerald and Ethan. One of his fathers is whimsical and messy, but extremely talented and attractive. The other one of his fathers is very orderly, precise, clean, well shaven, linear, successful, all of that.
Thomas is kind of in the middle. He tries to please his orderly father, but never ends up doing so. But his other father? His other father recognizes his talents immediately.
I write often, and I try to become a better writer, and I publish pieces of writing, so I guess I can now call myself a writer. But one hairball that keeps coming up is what good writing is. Because I don’t know what good writing is! Or who has it. Or why it is so.
Now I can tell when writing is bad. That’s easier. You can see grammatical mistakes, you can see logical mistakes like fallacies, you can see how the sentences don’t come together, and you can fail to see how what all of it says fails to make sense. These things are easy.
But once you pass this bare minimum? It’s as clear as mud. And I think that my version of the orderly father, who I would consider many of my professors at university, will never see me as a good writer. I think it’s because I don’t construct very good written arguments, but then again, I don’t know what makes for a good argument.
The second thing that I found interesting was that it’s always from the places that you would least believe it that you get the most useful advice. In this movie, it was Gerald. He seemed to be a random person who wasn’t living in the nicest apartment, an alcoholic who never made his bed. And yet, his advice about how to win over Mimi was spot on.
SO, watch the movie. It’s a twicer.